What is Hyperglycemia and Why Should You Be Informed?

Hyperglycemia is a medical term for high blood glucose. This condition, usually associated with diabetes, means that there is too much sugar in the blood. People suffering from this condition will typically experience symptoms such as vomiting, excessive hunger, and vision problems. If you leave it without treatment for a long time, it leads to more severe health problems. Read on to understand the damaging effects of hyperglycemia and what you can do to protect yourself.

Diagnosis of Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia occurs when sugar levels in your blood rise to extremely high levels. The condition is usually caused by low insulin levels or when your body fails to use insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose in the body. When this hormone works as it should, it transports glucose out of the blood into the cells. Its actions ensure that cells get enough glucose for energy, while the sugar level in the blood is prevented from getting high.

The blood glucose level in the average person ranges between 70 and 100 mg/dL. However, your body’s glucose may rise slightly above this range after having a meal. Random measurements will often show glucose levels lower than 125mg/dL. 

There are two main kinds of hyperglycemia:

Fasting hyperglycemia: This is when the blood sugar level of a patient who has diabetes is higher than 125mg/dL, despite not eating anything for more than 8 hours.

After-meal hyperglycemia: This is when you have a blood sugar level above 180 mg/dL, 1 to 2 hours after a meal. People without diabetes typically have their blood sugar level below 140 mg/dL after eating.

Hyperglycemia leads to more severe health problems if you fail to treat it for a long time. You can damage your blood vessels, nerves, or even organs. Nerve damage, in turn, may cause eye problems, non-healing wounds, or even kidney problems. Damage to the blood vessels will increase the chances of you suffering a heart attack or a stroke.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

Although several conditions may be responsible for hyperglycemia, the most common reason for the condition is diabetes mellitus. You may miss early symptoms of diabetes, so some people with the disease often don’t know about it. Diabetes disrupts the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates for energy. Diabetes can be found in 2 forms among patients- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is rare and accounts for only 5% of all diabetes cases. It occurs when the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas suffer complications. Type 2 diabetes, conversely, is more prevalent. It occurs when your system can’t use insulin. In addition to these two diabetes types, another form of the condition is known as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects between 2 to 10% of pregnant women.

Although diabetes is the most common cause of high blood sugar, it isn’t solely responsible for the condition. Other diseases or medical conditions that may cause hyperglycemia include:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Elevated blood cortisol level
  • Stress and severe illnesses
  • Hormone-secreting tumors
  • Medications such as estrogen and prednisone

Dangers of Hyperglycemia

High blood sugar can also cause ketoacidosis among Type 1 diabetes patients. Ketoacidosis is a condition that causes ketones (toxic acids) to build up in the body. This condition is classified as an emergency because it may lead to coma or even death among patients.

Some of the early symptoms of ketoacidosis are:

  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Deep labored breathing

Another complication that may come with hyperglycemia is hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome. This syndrome mainly occurs in Type 2 diabetes patients and is commonly triggered by illnesses or infections.

In this case, your body tries to remove high glucose by transporting it into your urine. People with this syndrome usually have blood sugar levels of 600 mg\dL and above. People with diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome experience life-threatening dehydration and require prompt care.

Other symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Skin infections

Treatment and Management of Hyperglycemia

Mild hyperglycemia often doesn’t require any medical treatment to be remedied. Depending on the severity of the condition, you can lower your blood level through diet and some other lifestyle changes.

People with diabetes can also manage hyperglycemia by eating healthy, limiting stress, and being active. Doctors usually prescribe insulin for high blood sugar in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes patients may receive oral medications and eventually insulin to manage the condition.

You can address hyperglycemia caused by other medical conditions by treating the disease responsible for high blood sugar. However, doctors may recommend insulin to stabilize glucose levels in your body during the treatment.

Bottom Line

Hyperglycemia can stay hidden in the body or cause severe damage to your system before being discovered. Don’t wait till you’re diagnosed with high blood sugar before doing the right thing. Eat healthily and work out to mitigate the risk of this condition today.